Former Top Obama Aide Confirms He Was Interviewed by Senate Intel Committee

Ben Rhodes / Getty
• July 26, 2017 11:51 am


Ben Rhodes, a top national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, confirmed on Tuesday that he was was interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff earlier in the day.

Rhodes' lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, told the Washington Post that his client "was pleased to cooperate" and is "fully supportive of efforts to investigate Russia's unprecedented interference in our democracy."

Staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee also interviewed Paul Manafort, who served as Presidential Donald Trump's campaign manager during the 2016 election, about a meeting that he, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. attended in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer.

Committee staff asked Rhodes about the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign; it is unclear if they addressed allegations from some lawmakers that Rhodes has helped orchestrate information leaks to the press to undermine the Trump administration.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and chair of its National Security subcommittee, called on the Trump administration to fire all former Obama administration officials earlier this month due to the unprecedented series of national security leaks trying to undermine Trump, according to the Washington Free Beacon. 

DeSantis named Ben Rhodes—the former National Security Council official responsible for creating an in-house "echo chamber" meant to mislead reporters and the public about the landmark nuclear deal with Iran—as a primary source of these leaks and urged the House Intelligence Committee to call Rhodes and other former Obama officials to testify publicly about any role they may be playing in spreading classified information to reporters.

"I think Congress and some members on the Intelligence Committee can call Ben Rhodes to testify," DeSantis told the Free Beacon. "He may be able to invoke executive privilege from when Obama was president, but he definitely can't do that in any interactions he's had since then."

DeSantis added that Rhodes and other senior Obama administration officials are "involved with feeding journalists some of these [leaks]."

"I believe he's in touch with people on the National Security Council," DeSantis said. "It would be absolutely legitimate as part of leak investigation to bring him in and put him under oath, and I would absolutely support doing that."

The Florida Republican also slammed the media, particularly the New York Times and Washington Post, for relying on anonymous sources, including former Obama administration officials.

"The press has helped facilitate this breakdown," he said. "They run stories that say former officials say, and basically that means Obama people are saying it. A lot of times these are people who are not even in the government anymore and the media will take stuff and run with it and a lot of times it's not fully the truth."